Why Software Testing Conferences Like TestBashNY Are So Incredibly Important

Rosie Sherry is Founder of Ministry of Testing and Software Testing Club.  She loves to do great things for software testers of the world.

TestBashI’ve been in the testing world since 2001, a few years later I was ready to leave. Everything about testing seemed dull. Boring. Pointless. Uninspiring. I couldn’t see myself in this career for the rest of my life.

I tried to find other like-minded testers, but I failed.  There were no meet up groups. All the conferences were too far away or way too expensive. People didn’t really seem interested in testing; they only seemed interested in talking to try to sell me stuff. And just to top it off, the online forums and groups seemed to be operated by robots that asked the same questions over and over and over again.

This would encourage anyone in that situation to leave their career. However, a bit like Hotel California, it’s like I’m not allowed to leave.

Things kept pulling me back into software testing. Slowly, I started doing things that inspired me. One brick at a time I started trying to piece and pull things together to create a better world. I like to emphasise the ‘one brick at a time’ –  it’s taken me 10 years to come to what the Ministry of Testing and Software Testing Club are today. I experimented, often failing and occasionally succeeding  And it seems that you only need to succeed a few times to actually make a positive impact.

Along the way I’ve created a world. A club. A ministry (!) that seeks to change and inspire software testers to do better, greater and smarter work surrounded by a supportive community that they can call their friends.

A big part of what I’ve been doing has been based around our TestBash(NY) conferences. I’d like to share how and why I go to crazy lengths to make these events happen.

1 – Bringing People Together 

What happens when you bring people together that face similar challenges? What happens when these people are looking for that something else? What happens when you do this is in a way where you put their needs first and they feel welcomed?

Of course we are a business and we need to have more money coming in than going out. And we are doing this, but not at the sacrifice of the experience of our community. As we have grown over the years, we have not compromised on our ethos and ethics of putting our community first. We exist to inspire, help testers learn and to help develop relationships between testers so that they can continue to grow after the event(s).

TestBashNY

Of course, this does not always mean that we get it right, but our intentions are there to bring you talks, conferences and training events that matter. You won’t ever have to sit through a vendor’s talk, ever again (with us!).

2 – Moving the software testing world forward

I’ve long had frustrations about the world of software testing being inefficient, lacking innovations and not being fully in touch with the fast moving pace of technology. I knew there were better ways to do testing. I knew people could find ways to improve. I also knew I wasn’t the one who would necessarily come up with the great ideas, but I certainly got excited and inspired with the opportunity of facilitating and supporting the change needed.

I like to think I’m moving the testing world forward by bringing people together. We give new community members the opportunity the share to the many thousands of testers we can reach out to. Then, slowly but surely, we can help make the change that happens, together.

3 – All the content, online

We record and make videos available online for anyone after TestBash conferences. We see this as a gift back to the community. These videos are published on The Dojo – an online platform we’ve created to help share awesome software testing related information.

Not only is this great for those that can’t attend the event, but it also helps those that attend to relax and enjoy the show.

4 – Being social, having fun and creating a supportive community

We plant the seeds to help testers across the world make connections that last.  We do this through meet ups, conferences, lean coffees and our Software Testing Club online forum. So many people have come together as a result of the seeds that we have planted. Some will stay for the ride. Others will dip in and then dip out. We can’t take all the credit, but we do get a lot of joy out of being able to help friendships begin.

5 – Fair play, diversity and investing in the community

I will keep saying this time and time again: we are a business that is driven my community, inspiration, fairness and change. Whilst money is needed, it is not our focus or goal. We’ve always believed that we will stand out and succeed as a business by keeping to our principles of being ethical and fair. Sometimes the process is slow (doesn’t change always take longer than expected?), but our actions are leading to the results we and the community are seeking.

This has led to things like:

  • Talks are chosen on interesting-ness and merit. Sometimes talks are also partly chosen because we believe certain people need the opportunity – when we know the people who submit talks personally we can make decisions to help support our community.
  • With speakers, we cover all their costs, no matter where they come from.  We know the effort that can go into preparing a talk, we only think it is fair that we cover their costs.
  • Diversity.  Our conferences and workshops now have a rough 50/50 gender representation. This happens naturally (we don’t choose or count until we have made our selection process). It hasn’t always been like this, but it’s great that it has naturally evolved this way.
  • Scholarship funds. We don’t have a set way of doing this, it tends to change on a year-by-year basis. Sometimes we invest in people to attend our training and events for free. Sometimes people from the community pay and chip in. Other times it’s a mix of the two. It has changed people’s lives, and this is good!

The Future

I am so driven, inspired and privileged to be doing the work that I’m doing. None of it would be possible without the support of the testers, employers and sponsors who all help make these things happen. So I thank you all and hope to meet some of you one day soon!

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Comments

  1. I’m trying to get a hold of the sales team please.

    Thanks

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